In the days following the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians have begun to outline the characteristics of their ideal country. The “New Egypt” will be clean, it will lack discrimination, it will be corruption-free. The initiative is the beginning of a push for specific demands that were secondary to the removal of Mubarak during the 18 days of protests, and they signify the indomitable idealism and forward-thinking mentality of triumphant anti-government protesters.
Among these demands are women’s rights—a list including lack of sexual harassment, equal pay in the workplace, and representation in the government that were not articulated during the protests in spite of significant female participation. But will the unity—expressed in favor of specific women’s rights—exhibited during the protests themselves hurt women in their push for equality in a post-Mubarak Egypt?
The protests in Tahrir were an “incredible time” for women, according to Amal Abdel Hady of the New Woman Foundation, a nonprofit women’s rights group. The women in the square “represented all generations and social classes.” Still, Abdel Hady noticed that the media did not pay as much attention to them as they did to the men, leading to the perception that young men led the Egyptian revolution, with the female presence remarkable but less important. And “never mind the Egyptian media,” she said, which barely represented the reality on the ground, never mind the strong female role.